By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Several days ago, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) issued a statement on their involvement (or lack thereof) in allegations about a widespread cover-up of physical and sexual child abuse in the Christian homeschooling community. The child abuse is alleged to have involved the children and a relative of Paul and Gena Suarez, owners of the popular homeschool magazine The Old Schoolhouse.
HSLDA’s statement, which you can view in entirety here, was that “HSLDA does not get involved in conflicts between families or individuals” and their mission is “not to be the police force of the homeschooling movement.” In response, I pointed out that not only does The Old Schoolhouse remain an HSLDA-suggested resource promoted to HSLDA members at a special discounted rate, but HSLDA is currently sponsoring The Old Schoolhouse. In terms of finances, therefore, it’s not difficult to see why some people would believe HSLDA is taking sides.
Today, however, HSLDA founder Michael Farris made explicit at least one side he’s taking: Heidi St. John’s.
St. John has been accused of ignoring a request for help from Jenefer Igarashi — the mother of one of the alleged abuse victims — as well as playing a role in getting Igarashi blocked from a homeschool convention. St. John issued a statement regarding the allegations, which she publicly posted on her Facebook page yesterday. St. John alleges that she is “being slandered in such a way that it has become very obvious that the devil is mad” and has “been betrayed by people who claimed to be our friends.” (You can view an archived image of St. John’s Facebook post here.) Various homeschool leaders have shown or declared solidarity with St. John, including Chris Jeub (who has recently been accused of emotional and physical abuse by several of his children) and Tracy Klicka MacKillop (widow of the late Chris Klicka of HSLDA).
One of these leaders includes Michael Farris. Farris left the following comment on St. John’s post:
Heidi, the bottom line for the attacks on you, me, and others is this: We follow Christ without apology. If we would water down the Gospel (and say that it is one of many ways to God) or if we would say that the Bible’s moral absolutes are merely suggestions, then we would find acceptance. You are standing strong and we are standing with you.
Considering that all of the individuals who have brought abuse allegations against Paul and Gena Suarez of the Old Schoolhouse (and associated individuals like St. John) are outspoken Christians, it’s unclear why Farris suggests the attacks involve “watering down the Gospel.”
What is clear, however, is that HSLDA’s Michael Farris has made explicit that he’s taking St. John’s side in this situation.